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Poll: Russians Uncertainly Assess October 1993

October 1, 1994

MOSCOW (AP) _ Nearly a year after tanks shelled the parliament building and troops put down an armed rebellion, Russians increasingly think Boris Yeltsin and the military acted too harshly, a poll released Saturday said.

But there is not much more approval this year than last for the actions of parliamentary and paramilitary hard-liners, who refused Yeltsin’s order to disband and barricaded themselves in the Russian White House.

Rallies took place Saturday in the central city of Kirov and the western city of Bryansk to mark the anniversary of last October’s bloodshed. More rallies are to begin Sunday in Moscow.

The Mnenie (Opinion) firm’s poll asked whether authorities acted correctly in storming the White House on Oct. 4, 1993 after bloody street riots by defenders of the old parliament. The death toll in two days of violence topped 140.

A year ago, about 55 percent of those polled said authorities acted correctly, but only 15 percent of those polled in September agreed. The number saying authorities acted incorrectly rose from 17 percent last October to 46 percent last month.

In nearly a complete reversal of last October’s poll figures, 41 percent said the storming was too brutal, and 14 percent said it was too indecisive.

In the earlier poll, nearly 14 percent said the government acted too brutally and 37 percent said it responded too indecisively.

Those who believe Yeltsin acted correctly in disbanding the Soviet-era parliament and calling new elections still outnumber those who don’t, 33 percent to 20 percent, the poll said.

But 47 percent now found the question hard to answer or gave a different response.

Last October, 53 percent supported Yeltsin, 20 percent didn’t, and 27 percent couldn’t answer or gave a different answer.

Support for the old parliament’s leaders’ move to strip Yeltsin of power stayed at about 13 percent.

But the number of respondents condemning the lawmakers dropped from 66 percent to 39 percent, while the number who couldn’t answer or answered otherwise more than doubled, from 21 percent to 46 percent.

The telephone poll of 1,180 people had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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